Western Branch - A Branch working for its community

Since we last posted about our Branch many things have happened. 

In the County Elections in May. Labour had a increased vote percentage across the the Buckinghamshire. This was reflected with the Wycombe Constituency, with Labour Candidates doing well. Within our Branch we were able to snatch the Booker, Cressex and Castlefield division from the incumbent Conservative councillor. Already the people of the area can see the benefit of having Labour Councillors at County & District levels working in partnership together. 

That is why we are now starting to look ahead to the District Council Elections in May 2019. We want to put together strong teams of Labour Candidates throughout the Wycombe District. If your interested in becoming a Labour Candidate you need at least 12 months membership of the party, so if you're not a member join TODAY!

In the General Election in June, the CLP fought a tremendous campaign with a local Candidate. In the coming months it is hoped to select our next Parliamentary Candidate, members are urged to consider standing for selection. We have cut the Tory majority to 6,557; although this sounds a lot, we believe we can cut if not overturn that majority next time. 

From November 2017, we are planning to move our monthly Western Branch meeting to the Green St Community Centre. We meet on the second Thursday in each month with the starting time of 7:30pm. There is car parking onsite and the centre is on the 32 & 33 bus routes. We will be having guest speakers coming along to some meetings in the coming months. Our meeting are open to all members.

Nigel P Vickery
Western Branch Chair.

Wycombe: A Changing Landscape

Since the 2015 General Election, our constituency of Wycombe has experienced a political roller-coaster ride. Against the expectations of our local MP Steve Baker, Wycombe voted to remain in the EU Referendum. Since then Steve Baker has been an MP who does not have his constituents’ best interests at heart. Steve’s hard right libertarian vision for Brexit and his ultimate desire to see the whole EU dismantled clearly disregards not just Wycombe remain voters’ views, but also the views of many of Wycombe’s leave voters. Partly as a result of Brexit, his almost 15,000 majority was reduced to a little more than 6,500 votes at the recent General Election. Our leader Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity has not gone unnoticed, as he shocked the nation by jeopardising Theresa May’s plan for a hard Brexit. Nationally, we managed to gain 30 seats and prevent May from gaining a majority. Many factors contributed to this reduction, primarily the strength of Labours voice nationally, our manifesto for the many and a strong campaign run by our local Labour Parties. It shows that our policies are resonating well with people and we are offering a new brand of hope.

Troubling Tories

Most recently, our Conservative council has failed its constituents and then added insult to injury with an attempted cover-up. The Tories tried to disguise a loss of revenue for the Council caused by the failure of the recently introduced and now-defunct ANPR parking system. At least £1.3 million of the taxpayer’s money was lost (due to individuals managing to avoid paying for tickets) as a result of this £680,000 scheme. Councillor Katrina Wood (Leader of the Council) showed contempt for constituents already hit by austerity, by trivialising this important issue dubbing it ‘old news’. She continues to serve as Leader of the Council, despite calls for her to resign. The people of Wycombe, and Buckinghamshire as whole, cannot afford to be duped by the Conservatives any longer. With local public finances squeezed by Westminster’s ideologically driven and unnecessary cuts it is imperative that our Council manages its shrinking budget much more effectively than the Conservatives are currently managing. Our council seems content with wasting our money on failed projects, instead of investing in our public services. This must stop.

On a local scale, we have suffered significant austerity based cuts at the hands of the Tories.  Troubling policies implemented by the Conservatives are not strictly limited to a local level of course. Nationally, the people of this country have suffered astonishing cuts to Public Services that are essential to our everyday lives. It is outrageous that, nearly a decade on from the Great Financial Crisis, the poor and most vulnerable are still being asked to pay for the failures of bankers.  Regular cuts are made to our NHS, schools, children’s services, fire brigade, social services, road maintenance and other essential services. On average, a primary school student is losing out on £338 of funding since the Conservatives took charge. As the children progress, the amount lost increases as the average secondary school student receives £436 less than before. These cuts are jeopardising the education of our youth and in turn, harming our already dwindling economy. If the children do not receive a decent education, how can we expect them to contribute to this country and assist in our growth?

As ever, austerity remains a self-defeating policy, sucking demand out of the economy, restricting productive capacity and leaving people underemployed. Ministers have released figures exhibiting that by 2019/20, NHS funding in real terms will decrease by 0.6%. This is one national policy that will have a significant impact on locals in our own constituency, we are still reeling from the loss our very own A&E department. A department that we were prepared to campaign for the return of, if we were elected. Since 2005, constituents of Wycombe are forced to undergo approximately 1 hour journeys, for the sole purpose of finding an A&E department at a hospital. We require easily accessible and safe healthcare and are set to campaign for this. Other public services have suffered a similar fate to that of the NHS, with 265 firefighter jobs having been cut in Buckinghamshire alone, since 2010. A period of endless cuts seems to be the Tory way and we cannot remain idle as this occurs.

Read more

Wycombe Labour calls for the resignation of Cllr. Katrina Wood as Council Leader over ANPR scandal!




Wycombe Labour's Deputy Group Leader Cllr Khalil Ahmed called for the leader of Wycombe
District Council to step aside as leader as an act of belated sense duty for her failure to
reveal the true cost of the bungled ANPR system.

Councillor Khalil Ahmed, Labour’s Councillor for Disraeli, asked the leader a question during
a Full Council meeting last night,

"In light of the recent Bucks Free Press article relating to the loss of revenue through
uncollected fines from the now defunct ANPR system, can the leader explain to the public as
to why we are having to find out about the true cost of the failed project via FOI's and could
she also comment on why a full inquiry was not deemed appropriate to dispel any theories
of a cover up regarding the actual amountlost?"

The leader's response was a repeat of the answer previously given when she was challenged by
the Labour councillor for failing to carry out the necessary due diligence before
implementation of the ill-fated ANPR system and assertions that the cabinet member was
incompetent and negligent in her duty. Cllr Ahmed went on to say

The leader's comments in last weeks Bucks Free Press article refer to the ANPR system as
'old news' and frankly this is appalling, to say the least. Considering that the leader decided
to reshuffle her cabinet and opted to replace the Cabinet Member for Environment Services,
clearly, this was an acknowledgement of failure within her own team and would it not have
been fairer if she too had considered her position as leader, through a belated sense of
duty?

This prompted a very angry response from Cllr Katrina Woods who denied the claim that the
ANPR system as a fiasco as alleged by Cllr Ahmed.



Now it looks as though Wycombe Labour was right all along ever since the issue was
highlighted nearly two years ago. Cllr Ahmed and his colleagues were prevented from
raising this issue initially due to the legal challenge mounted by WDC against the
government. After losing this challenge at the cost of thousands of pounds, WDC were then
confronted not only by Wycombe Labour but the BFP also, after their investigation into the
ANPR system.

In light of everything that has unfolded and the huge waste of tapaers money, the leader
of WDC has no confidence left from the people she stands to represent and therefore should
resign.


Labour's Majid Hussain ousts Cabinet Member for Education in election triumph!

Local Castlefield resident and local campaigner, Majid Hussain, has gained the seat of Booker, Cressex and Castlefield from the Conservative former Cabinet Member for Education. Majid said that "It has been really, really hard work. I have been working very hard in the community and I have had a great team behind me for the last three months. Now it is my chance to pay them back for their support and the faith that had in me. I will do my very best for the people of Booker, Cressex and Castlefield!"

This is proof, along with major increases in our vote share in key Electoral Divisions, that Wycombe Labour is fully ready to take on Steve Baker in June's General Election. Our communities need the strong and principled representation which Steve Baker has failed to provide. Our candidate, Cllr. Rafiq Raja, is determined to improve the lives of families across Wycombe and with the boost we've received from yesterday's result, we will get out there in big numbers and fight for him to be elected as Wycombe's next MP!


Cllr. Rafiq Raja selected to fight General Election in Wycombe!

The Wycombe Labour Party is delighted to announce that District Councillor, Rafiq Raja, will be standing as our Parliamentary Candidate in the Wycombe constituency for the General Election on 8th June.

Cllr. Raja said he's "immensely proud to have been chosen to stand for the Labour Party in the Wycombe constituency."

"Wycombe is an incredibly beautiful place with a good mix of people. It needs good quality public services and infrastructure to face the challenges of the future. A close link to the EU is essential to protect our economy and wellbeing rather than an ideologically driven hard Brexit."

Cllr. Raja was first elected to Wycombe District Council in 2003 and was elected again two years ago. He's been a School Governor since 1984, a Trustee of the Cressex Co-operative Learning Trust, the Chairman of the High Wycombe Muslim Parents Association and was the founding secretary of a self-help bereavement society.

The Wycombe Labour Party is looking forward to fighting this election to put our principles into practice. Please message us through Facebook if you'd like to volunteer by leafleting, canvassing, attending a street stall or even having a poster or Correx board outside your house!


Labour Party selects District Councillor, Rafiq Raja, to fight General Election!

The Wycombe Labour Party is delighted to announce that District Councillor, Rafiq Raja, will be standing as our Parliamentary Candidate in the Wycombe constituency for the General Election on 8th June.

Cllr. Raja said he's "immensely proud to have been chosen to stand for the Labour Party in the Wycombe constituency."

"Wycombe is an incredibly beautiful place with a good mix of people. It needs good quality public services and infrastructure to face the challenges of the future. A close link to the EU is essential to protect our economy and wellbeing rather than an ideologically driven hard Brexit."

Cllr. Raja was first elected to Wycombe District Council in 2003 and was elected again two years ago. He's been a School Governor since 1984, a Trustee of the Cressex Co-operative Learning Trust, the Chairman of the High Wycombe Muslim Parents Association and was the founding secretary of a self-help bereavement society.

The Wycombe Labour Party is looking forward to fighting this election to put our principles into practice. Please message us through Facebook if you'd like to volunteer by leafleting, canvassing, attending a street stall or even having a poster or Correx board outside your house!

Please use the hashtag #RR4Wycombe on social media!


Trade Unions are needed to get a better deal for workers

On Thursday the 23rd of February, I asked the Tory-led Wycombe District Council if they would take steps towards encouraging a strong trade union community within multi-billionaire corporations operating within the Wycombe area. During my question, I decided to focus on the Mike Ashley owned Sports equipment supplier that is Sports Direct, which does, and has for some years now, have a store in Wycombe Town Centre. Unfortunately, the Tories refused to acknowledge the need to apply additional pressures on businesses that operate in our local area and do not pay a decent wage.

Sports Direct is a prime example of why a strong trade union presence is needed in retail stores. The hourly wage in a Sports Direct store ranges from approximately £5.45 an hour to £6.80 an hour, depending on your age, role within the store, and experience. Not only does Sports Direct fail to pay a decent wage – whilst Mike Ashley rakes in profits of over £300m pound a year – they also fail to employ workers with the promise of decent hours. Quite literally thousands upon thousands of workers at Sports Direct are on zero-hour contracts, and those who aren’t are put on low-hour contracts to simply make the companies employment statistics look somewhere close to acceptable.

Zero-hour contracts are not only a problem in Sports Direct, however. A report from the TUC in September 2016 informed us that at least 900,000 people from Britain’s workforce are on zero-hour contracts. We must also remember, to add insult to injury that thousands, possibly even millions, may not be on zero-hour contracts, but are still suffering from a poor wage or job that does not guarantee them decent hours.

Not only are billionaire-run corporations being given tax-cuts by the Conservative government, they are also getting away with greedily refusing to employ people with a proper living wage. So, if the government aren’t going to help suffering workers, what can be done to combat such greed and injustice? Well, it appears to me, more so now than ever, that it is time for a strong trade union movement, particularly in retail stores. It is time for workers, not only in retail stores but workplaces everywhere, to have support and encouragement for when it comes to fighting for their rights as workers. With a strong trade union movement, it would apply added pressures on both central and local authorities to act for the needs of working people, and not the tax-dodging billionaires.

If you are interested in joining a trade union, I would highly recommend checking out this website:  https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union which has an online tool to help you decide which trade union is suitable for you depending on your sector of work. 


Funerals and burials for under-18s should be free

On Thursday 23rd February Wycombe Labour’s Youth Officer asked the Cabinet Member for the Community at the Wycombe District Council meeting whether she’d support Carolyn Harris MP’s campaign to make all funerals and burial free for children who pass away under the age of 18.

Carolyn Harris herself lost her child in a tragic accident when he was under-18 and has recently spoken out about the horrible experience she had to go through planning a funeral and being constantly worried about the costs. The strain which she had to go through shouldn’t be experienced by any other parent.

It is to be commended that the council currently provides free burial for those that pass away under the age of 16. However we feel that two further things need to happen.

  1. Free burials need to be extended to include 17 and 18 year olds as to pay for an adult plot without life insurance is vastly too much for many people.
  2. The council should also work with funeral directors and others to try and secure free funerals for under-18s as again, it is far too expensive for grieving families to pay for without life insurance.

We are willing to work with the current administration at Wycombe District Council in order to at least partially alleviate the pain bereaved families go through by not burdening them with costs that funerals and burials bring.


Funerals and burials for under-18s should be free

On Thursday 23rd February Wycombe Labour’s Youth Officer asked the Cabinet Member for the Community at the Wycombe District Council meeting whether she’d support Carolyn Harris MP’s campaign to make all funerals and burial free for children who pass away under the age of 18.

Carolyn Harris herself lost her child in a tragic accident when he was under-18 and has recently spoken out about the horrible experience she had to go through planning a funeral and being constantly worried about the costs. The strain which she had to go through shouldn’t be experienced by any other parent.

It is to be commended that the council currently provides free burial for those that pass away under the age of 16. However we feel that two further things need to happen.

  1. Free burials need to be extended to include 17 and 18 year olds as to pay for an adult plot without life insurance is vastly too much for many people.
  2. The council should also work with funeral directors and others to try and secure free funerals for under-18s as again, it is far too expensive for grieving families to pay for without life insurance.

We are willing to work with the current administration at Wycombe District Council in order to at least partially alleviate the pain bereaved families go through by not burdening them with costs that funerals and burials bring.


Letter to Steve Baker MP on EU Single Market access

Today, the Wycombe Labour Party posted the following letter to Steve Baker MP. We look forward to his reply.

 

Dear Steve Baker MP,

 

We are writing to you today to express our deepest concerns with the developments surrounding the upcoming “Brexit” negotiations. Being an MP, you will know all too well that our country is severely divided by the EU referendum result. As MP of Wycombe, you will also be able to understand that the 52% of your own constituents who voted to Remain are feeling very uncomfortable at the thought of exiting the single market, and that’s not including any Leave voters who were under the impression that we had no intention of leaving the single market. 

We respect the democratic result of the referendum, and we also respect that you decided to back the Leave campaign, but it is simply wrong to ignore the concerns of your constituents. Your constituents understand that you are a passionate Leave supporter, but now is the time to serve those people who have leant you their powers, and do the right thing to try and heal the divides caused by the EU referendum. 

We respect the result of the referendum, acknowledging that the majority of those who voted wanted to leave the EU. However, this was not the case in your constituency of Wycombe. This is why we are asking for you to come to the compromise of demanding and supporting full access to the single market. By taking this action, you will be both respecting the overall EU referendum result, and also addressing the concerns 52% of your constituents have. MP’s are representatives, not masters of their constituents, and we hope you keep that in mind.



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